Standing alongside state coaches and athletic directors on the Richmond Coliseum court, Governor Bob McDonnell announced the “Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic”, a basketball double header that will match 4 of the state’s top programs a year during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
The inaugural classic will pit a slew of VCU rivals against each other, as the CAA’s George Mason takes on A10 Richmond, followed by fellow CAA foe Old Dominion’s matchup with the ACC’s UVA Cavaliers.
VCU will wait until the 2013 season when it will take on the Virginia Tech Hokies after another Interatstate 81 squad, the CAA’s JMU Dukes, who will take on the Pirates of Hampton University.
Fans of Virginia schools outside of the ACC have been asking for something like this ever since the Richmond Times-Dispatch Tournament ended in 1991.
Speaking about the “Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic” Governor McDonnell remarked, “Virginia has long been home to some of the nation’s premier collegiate basketball programs. Virginia teams have appeared in Final Fours, won conference championships and are regularly ranked in national Top 25 polls. Unfortunately, given scheduling constraints and conference affiliations, we too rarely get to witness our in-state teams competing against each other. The “Classic” will change that. In December 2012 and 2013 the Richmond Coliseum will be the site of what are certain to be exciting games which will allow Virginians to celebrate our great colleges and universities while supporting a great cause, the Commonwealth’s Food Banks. I hope the Classic will become a long-lasting Virginia athletic tradition. And, as a father who has had children attend UVa, Virginia Tech, ODU, JMU and VCU, I’m definitely staying neutral in this one!”
Fans of the top CAA teams have found it nearly impossible to schedule teams from the ACC in years past.
But following two recent Final 4 appearances from Virginia CAA teams (VCU & George Mason), and 11 combined NCAA appearances over the past decade versus 3 from UVA and VA Tech, the balance of hoops power in the Commonwealth seems to have officially shifted to the Colonial Athletic Association.
After finding themselves on the wrong side of the bubble for perhaps one two many seasons, it seems as if Virginia Tech’s Seth Greenberg has finally seen the light and changed his tune on how exactly he can, as he once put it, “grow [his] brand” — which previously meant passing on games with top state programs.
Greenberg could very well turn back into Uncle Scrooge after the 2013 Holiday Classic, as VCU will suit up 3 seniors from a Final 4 squad in DJ Haley, Juvonte Reddic, and Rob Brandenberg, as well as what would be two red-shirt juniors in Reco McCarter and Heath Houston, not to mention a group of recruits who will have come in after the Rams first ever Final 4 appearance.
Time will tell how both teams will shape out, but Ram fans, and state basketball fans in general, should look forward to these matchups.